Many people are familiar with the concept behind music therapy, but not everyone thinks to incorporate this into their own life.  Armed with the knowledge that listening to certain types of music can lift your mood or alter it in other desirable ways, you can create your own reality.  This knowledge can also inform your decision when it comes to music that would negatively affect you.

One of the most obvious things that music does is alter your mood.  The next time you're feeling down, think about what kind of music you feel like listening to.  It might be that you instinctively go for something sad to match your mood.  When you catch yourself doing that, pick out music that feels joyful to you, and listen to that instead.  Before you know it, you'll be feeling better.  One thing that happens in your body is that your brain waves shift to match the tempo of the music.  A faster tempo will enhance your alertness and lengthen your concentration span.

A study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore discovered that listening to music that you find to be joyful can actually improve your cardiovascular health.  When participants in a study listened to joyful (in their opinion) music, their blood vessels dilated by as much as twenty three percent.  Meanwhile, when they listened to music that caused them anxiety, their blood vessels constricted as much as nine percent.  Hearing music you enjoy can increase blood flow throughout your entire body.

Music also directly affects heart rate as well as breathing rate.  To slow down, relax, and meditate, listening to music that is calming can help you relieve stress and enter a meditative state.  Decreasing stress levels is one of the best things you can do for your health, both physically and mentally, so the next time you turn the stereo on, think about your choice in music and how it will affect you.

Playing is an intrinsic, healthy part of how children learn about the world.  They use it to explore their environments, to engage with others,  learn and practice new skills, expand and explore their imagination, etc.  Knowing the stages of play that your child will likely go through is important as it enables you to have age-appropriate expectations and understanding. 

The three main stages of play are exploratory- experiencing the environment through the senses, relational- using toys for their designated purposes (the firetruck puts out fires, the broom is used to sweep and so on), and symbolic play- using a toy or object as something else, such as pretending that a blanket is a cape or using a stick to imitate a sword.  Children start off playing by themselves.  The next step is for them to play alongside but not necessarily with, others.  Later, the child begins to involve those around them in their play, resulting in the child being able to share toys, playtime, and co-create together. in order to make the move from playing by oneself to playing with other a certain amount of brain development must take place, and communication and language skills need to be in place.

The following are guidelines for how you can support your child during their play development:

12-20 months
:  show your child how toys work, and let them explore it in their own way.  Watching others play is common, playing with others is not.  Around 16 months or so, you may find that your child will play next to and copy other children.

21-30 months
:  by the age of two, you child will be the one initiating play on their own. The concept of  "pretending" will emerge.  Creating stories and imaginary worlds will help in the development of reasoning skills and creativity.   This is the beginning of your child's self-confidence and self esteem, so your role in this type of play is to encourage and support them.  They will be able to play alongside other children and tell each other what to do but will not be able to co-create a story.

31-40 months
:  at this point, children can think for themselves and are exploring the borders of reality and fantasy.   Three years of age is a very egocentric time period in that their understanding of the world is based on their experiences of it, so they may view toys or other objects they are attached to as part of themselves, which can lead to difficulty sharing, even if they understand the meaning of the word.  You can help support your child in learning about sharing with others and compromising, but recognize they may not be able to understand you.

41 months and beyond
:  children have learned to play with others as well  as alone by the age of four.  They will (in most cases) understand the difference between reality and fantasy and will be able to create clear and detailed storylines.  They may experiment with different character roles and have imaginary friends.
The meaning and basis of our dreams is something that has been the subject of a great deal of speculation in the psychological community for years.  Theories about dreams emerging to express unmanifested desires of our subconscious and dreams acting to allow us to process our experiences in a safe space abound, and many healers are finding that not only are dreams part and parcel of our subconscious processing of our desires and experiences, but they are also instrumental in helping us heal.  Our subconsious mind is at work even while our body rests, and in dreams it has free reign.

Studies have shown that after intense traumatic experiences, many people cease to dream, or are unable to remember their dreams.  The next stage, that of troublingor frightening dreams, is actually a healthy step.  These dreams, as unpleasant as they may be, are our brain's way of processing the events that have taken place.  Allowing yourself, either consciously or unconsciously, to process trauma is an important part of the healing process.  Troubling dreams may also be our brain's way of letting us know that we still need to address issues that we aren't dealing with.

Remembering dreams is a skill to practice.  One of the main reasons that so few people have frequent and detailed memories of their dreams is that their sleep is being unnaturally interuppted.  If you are waking up to an alarm clock each day, your sleep cycle is not coming to it's natural endpoint.  Waking up on your body's own time is one of the best ways to help yourself remember dreams.  You may want to keep a pad of paper and a pencil within easy reach so that you can record your dreams before you get out of bed and get distracted.  Many people find that they remember their dreams more clearly if they remain in the position they woke up from the dream in, so before you roll over to grab your pen and paper, run through the dream in your head, consciously forming a memory of the sequence of events. 

To learn more about dreams and the role they play in healing, go here.
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Don't Just Eat Healthy Food, Eat Healing Food

Known as the father of medicine, Hippocrates said (around 2,500 years ago) "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."  That is advice we'd do well to continue taking today.  Here are a few examples of the way in which food can serve as medicine, to both prevent disease and heal the body:
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease by eating whole grains

  • Tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes, can prevent prostate cancer

  • Blueberries are full of anti-oxidants, but they can also prevent, slow or even reverse age or Alzheimers-related symptoms of dementia

  • Walnuts can lower LDL cholesterol, and are high in arginine which boosts blood flow to the heart

  • Cabbage, especially fermented (think sauerkraut) has been shown to reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer

  • Like beans?  Eat more- full of fiber, these beans can help prevent colon disease and cancer

  • Cherries may just reduce pain, especially for those suffering from arthritis
  • Yogurt is a great immunity booster, and all those probiotics will keep GI systems happy and healthy.






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